20th May 2004: My father is dead

Well, dead. And when he stands among
the squeaking voices in the Stygian hall
before the two dark thrones, then say for me
he did me little good and little harm,
let him pass on without bitterness
but without vengeance, without a father’s offerings.
I speak for him as for a chance-met stranger,
let him pass on to Lethe and new life
where he might learn all he so manifestly did not learn
in this life he is leaving.

Please don’t sympathise. I hadn’t spoken to him since 1984. I feel very weird about it. He tried to get in contact with me a couple of times, but I resisted it. I’m not saying “Good” and jumping up and down putting out flags the way I would be if my mother were dead, but the last thing I want is deepest sympathy. I don’t have enough connection to him for that. He never felt like family to me. I’ve felt much much more distress at the death of friends.

I spent several years utterly out of contact thinking he was probably dead already. It’s amazing, considering how much he smoked and drank, that he made it to sixty.

He was a man who, all his life, ran away from things that were difficult. He never grew a spine. It isn’t possible to say anything about him, my relationship with him, that gets past the “de mortuis nil nisi bonum” rule, and yet though he was a weak man and a man whose decisions make me wonder what he could possibly have been thinking, I mostly liked him.

He could be the life of a party, he could be generous, he could be very interesting to talk to, he once deciphered a letter I wrote not only entirely in Dwarven runes but in LOTR page and line references, and he introduced me to Heinlein and Delany.

I guess what I inherit is his copy of The Sirens of Titan he told me to look after because he wanted it back.

I will take the good that was in him, that is in my genes and Zorinth’s genes, and take that forward.

Posted in Life as it blossoms out in a jar or a face